World Handicap System

The World Handicap System (WHS) will launch in England on 2nd November 2020.

The background to the WHS is provided in this video.

For you as a player, this video provides an overview of the whole process. Each element is explained in more detail in the paragraphs (and videos) that follow. At the bottom of the page, you can download a Key Features Booklet and some Frequently Asked Questions.

1. For each player, a new ‘Handicap Index’ replaces the existing ‘Exact Handicap’. Your Handicap Index will be based on the average of the best 8 scores from the last 20 rounds. Initially, all qualifying scores from the last 2 years will be used to set the Handicap Index in November. If you don’t have 20 scores there is a sliding scale, for example, best 4 from 12 to 14 rounds.
Click here for a video on How your Handicap Index is calculated

2. For each course, a new ‘Course Rating’ will replace the ‘Standard Scratch Score’. In addition, each course will have a ‘Slope Index’, which is a measure of the course difficulty. The same set of tees can have a different Course Rating and Slope Index for men and women. By November only about two thirds of courses in Cheshire will have been officially rated. Knutsford will be given a provisional rating.
Click here for Course Rating and Slope Index video

3. Your ‘Playing Handicap’ is replaced by a ‘Course Handicap’. This is calculated from your ‘Handicap Index’, but is adjusted by the ‘Course Rating’ and ‘Slope Index’ for the particular set of tees being used at a particular course. This will be provided by look up tables at each course, and possibly by a phone app.
Click here for video on Calculation of Playing Handicap

4. ‘Strokes Received’ are replaced by ‘Playing Handicap’ (a current term, but used for a new meaning !) . Your ‘Playing Handicap’ is calculated by adjusting your ‘Course Handicap’ depending on the format of play such as betterball or greensomes. So your Playing Handicap is calculated each time you play, depending on your Handicap Index, the Course Rating (for the tees you are playing from), the Slope Index and the format of play. For competitions, Playing Handicap will be worked out by the computer and printed on the Tee Sheet or Scorecard Labels.

5. Scores on a particular day may also be adjusted by a ‘Playing Conditions’ calculation, based on all scores entered from that course on that day. This is similar to the Competition Standard Scratch (CSS) adjustment but includes all scores entered not just competition scores. Playing Conditions Calculation video

6. Scores acceptable for handicap purposes will include scores from social rounds as well as competitions. Supplementary scores must be pre-registered before playing. Team format scores are not acceptable. Scores can also be acceptable at any time of year as long as the round is played from a measured course so temporary tees or greens will not provide an acceptable score. Clubs may still choose to have a qualifying playing season. Acceptable Scores video

7. The Maximum Handicap Index is set at 54 to encourage inclusivity and accessibility. An initial Handicap Index can be obtained by submitting scores from 54 holes worth of play in 9 hole or 18 hole rounds or any combination. Maximum Handicap Index video

8. For handicap purposes scores will be capped at a net double bogey. This is no different to the current system. Net Double Bogey video

9. A player’s Handicap Index will be updated daily – normally overnight. It is important that all qualifying scores are submitted on the day the round was played. Annual Reviews will also still be performed. Handicap Revision video

Links for further reading
R&A website
England Golf website updated weekly

Frequently Asked Questions
R&A WHS Key features booklet
England Golf Privacy Notice

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